Long Lost Heart

          It was a few days after Christmas, and we were all gathered around the Christmas tree at my mom’s sister’s house, my Auntie Jodie. My three cousins and two stepsisters sat by the fireplace and opened some more of their presents given to them by grandma and grandpa who couldn’t make the trip over.
          My older sister, Eden, was sitting by my side and my mom right next to her. My Auntie walked over to us, carrying two small boxes for both Eden and I, and winked at our mom. We opened them carefully together and took out the silver chains and read the inscriptions. Immediately, big smiles made their way across our faces and our eyes started to fill with happy tears.
          “I found these necklaces in my jewelry box,” Auntie Jodie said to us smiling and wiping the tears off of her cheeks. “Your mom and I wore them when we were younger, and I thought it was appropriate to pass them down to you girls, I really hope you like them.”
          I don’t think I’ll ever forget how happy a moment it was when she and my mom helped fasten the necklaces around our necks. Eden and I looked at them beaming, thanked them, and gave them both big hugs. We then sat back down and looked at each other, watching each other’s eyes fill with happy tears, then start to stream down our faces. We hugged for a long time laughing while mom and Auntie Jodie stood watching us with tears in their eyes as well.
          Fastened to this necklace is a half-heart hanging from a long silver chain. The heart is no bigger thank the tip of my pointer finger and weighs less than a dime. The front of the half-heart has sort of a rough texture to it, and the back is smooth to the touch. Inscribed on the front of the half-heart is “Lil Sis” and on the back, “I Love You.” As simple as it sounds, it couldn’t be more important.
          I have a lot of necklaces. They all hang from the same jewelry hanger in my bathroom. All of them are nice, but this one, … this one means so much more to me. This necklace has a special connection to the other necklace, which shares the other half of the heart, a connection that defines my entire life.
          Both halves of the heart represent two very different, but at the same time, very similar lives. Just like in real life, even though the two are halves are almost always separated, they’ll always be together, bonded by a love so strong, nothing could ever break it. Just like the chain that hangs around our necks.
I don’t get to see my sister very often. Sometimes I’ll visit her in California where she lives, and sometimes she’ll come and visit me, here in Hawaii. Up until a few years ago, however, she didn’t even know I existed.
           I was only a few days old when my adoptive parents first got me. It was supposed to be an open adoption, but somehow we lost each other not to long afterwards. My birth mom, dad, and sister went back to England, and I stayed here, in Hawai’i with my adoptive parents and never left.
           My parents have always open about the situation. They told me from the start that I was adopted and would always do their best to answer all of my questions. They never had or adopted any other kids, which made me long even more for my real sister. I thought about her all the time and wondered where she was and where my birth parents were. It haunted me for years. There was not a day in my life that I could remember where I didn’t think about them all, something would always remind me of them. Going to friend’s family parties or watching two sisters play with each other on the playground. Even movies about siblings and families would set my mind off and I’d be stuck on the subject for the rest of the day.
           By the age of 15, the unknown was killing me. I hadn’t heard from that whole side of my family since I had been born. Where were they? Why hadn’t I heard from them? Were they even still alive? Those questions were burning a hole in my brain. I needed to know. I made myself a promise I would find them.
           In the 9th grade, I remember was sitting in Social Studies class one day and were got onto the subject of ancestors. For homework we were given a worksheet with a picture of a family tree on it with boxes to write all of the names of our family in. It traced all the way back to the 3rd or 4th generation, so it required some researching. I stared at the sheet of paper and naturally, all of those questions came through my mind again about my family. I didn’t know anything about them except for my immediate family’s names.
           That following day, on Saturday, I got on my computer and decided to look on Facebook for my sister, Eden. I wasn’t expecting anything, really but I typed in her name in the search bar and hit enter. As I waited for the page to load, my mind raced. It couldn’t be this easy, it just couldn’t. Don’t get your hopes up, I thought. The chances of actually finding her right now are very slim. I mean, I had looked on the Internet before, hundreds of times, like People Search, but I hadn’t found a single thing… but maybe this time would be different…
          The page loaded, and my heart started to beat faster. I could feel it thumping against the inside of my chest as I scrolled down a little, and clicked on a picture of a girl. The picture wasn’t very clear, but I could see that her eyes were very big and dark, just like me, and her hair looked very curly and wavy. My hair isn’t really curly, but it’s definitely wavy. It was a long shot, and I knew it, but I thought, what the hell? I really didn’t have anything to lose, so I messaged her.
           I was very blunt, now that I look back on it, asking if her parent’s names were Dana and Simon, and if she knew if she had a sister who was given up for adoption when she was about 2 years old.
I checked my inbox every day for her reply for about a week, before I saw the little red icon above my inbox appear, indicating that I had received a message. My heart pretty much stopped, but I didn’t hesitate. I clicked on the message icon and braced myself for what I was about to read.
           She couldn’t believe that she had gotten a message from me. It turns out, those were her parent’s names, but no, she didn’t know that she had a sister who was given up for adoption, so you can imagine her surprise. She didn’t really know what to say, it seemed like. She said she had gotten my message and asked her mom about it (our mom), and that she had broken down everything to her. She was beyond excited, and just overwhelmed with the idea, but after sending a few more messages back and forth, we cleared up what had happened 15 years ago. The shock of actually finding Eden set in and the emotions that washed over me were overpowering.
          We continued to talk through Facebook messaging, i chat, Skype, and on the phone to try to understand what had really happened. I knew I had questions to ask about my family, but I never realized how many until we actually started talking. It was like an episode straight out of Oprah, where people are reunited with their family members with lots of happy tears and smiles, but a little more private.
          I just couldn’t even begin to believe that I had found her, finally, and that all those years of not knowing anything about my family, were over. I felt like I could really start living my life now. That huge hole inside of me had been missing for 15 years. Now though, I felt totally complete, just like that.
          Even now, 2 years later, when I get ready in the morning for the day I’ll see that necklace my Auntie gave to Eden and I on my necklace holder and think how much things have changed since then. As I rub my thumb and pointer finger over the inscriptions on the half-heart necklace, I smile, and think of all of my family back in California, it feels just like yesterday; all of emotions, tears, and excitement when I met them all for the first time, that I could actually remember.
          Despite us living in different states I couldn’t be closer to them, especially Eden. I put the necklace on, around my neck, look down at it and feel the like my sister is right there with me. I look in the mirror and adjust it so it hangs perfectly and smile again.

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